Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

M$ Battles Halo 2 Holes

Filed under
Microsoft
Security
Gaming

Microsoft is once again locked in a battle of wills with hackers determined to find and exploit security holes in the company's software. But this time the buggy code isn't endangering users' PCs -- just their otherworldly alien fortresses.

The vulnerabilities are in Microsoft's enormously popular Xbox game Halo 2. Last month, the company's Bungie Studios games division pushed out a 2-MB software patch for the sci-fi shooter in response to months of complaints from Xbox Live gamers about "glitchers" who'd learned to exploit programming errors in the game to their advantage in competitive play. The phenomenon launched cheaters to high positions in the Halo 2 global leader board, where players are ranked like chess masters according to their online wins and losses.

The most severe of the holes was a meta-bug triggered when black hats interfered with their cable modem links, buying them up to eight seconds of invisible movement while the game server struggled to reconnect -- just the ticket to sneak into the enemy's fort and steal their colors in a hotly contested capture-the-flag game. Other glitches were errors in the game's physics engine that gave practiced players Neo-like mastery of the Halo 2 multiverse: the power to fly through the air, grab objects through solid walls or create a tactically useful double of their avatar.

"You have a huge number of people intentionally trying to find stuff to essentially break, or mess around with, the game," said Halo expert Jeremy Hunt. "Trying to make a game work with that kind of crowd is pretty tough."

The bugs have been a chink in the armor of the otherwise bulletproof Halo franchise. The original Halo was the flagship title for the Xbox, and Halo 2, released last November, sold 6.4 million copies in its first three months on the market. The game's vigorous online component helped boost Xbox Live's user base to 1.4 million players in January. A Halo movie is now reportedly in the works, and rumors abound that a next-generation Halo update is planned as a launch title for the upcoming Xbox 360 console.

Microsoft responded to the glitches quickly and characteristically: In mid-January, the company launched a ruthless wave of anti-hacking enforcement that's seen, by Microsoft's count, thousands of players banned from online play for allegedly exploiting the vulnerabilities. Some gamers are complaining in message forums that they were targeted unjustly, but they have no recourse under Xbox Live's terms-of-service agreement, which lets the company exile anyone for any reason.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

Debian Needs Your Help to Improve UEFI Support in the Distribution

Steve McIntyre, a renowned Debian developer and leader of the "Debian-CD" team, wrote an interesting announcement a couple of days ago informing us all that there was a new team of developers for Debian, maintaining all of their UEFI packages. Read more

To Expedite Innovation, Give Away Your Code

Open-source software has been a growing phenomenon for more than two decades, but in recent years it has risen in importance in a whole new way: as a key to rapid innovation for startups and corporate giants alike. One example of open-source software being used to increase the velocity of technical innovation can be seen with Airbnb. In early June, Airbnb did something that might sound crazy. It decided to give away a sophisticated software tool it developed called Aerosolve. Aerosolve uses machine learning to understand what consumers will pay for a certain kind of room in a certain place — and helps people figure out how to price their Airbnb rentals. Read more

Teaching students the value of open source

Open source is not just about making something publicly accessible. It is a set of values—a way of working that practices open collaboration between a community to build or maintain something. On the basis of these values, today we can observe a vibrant and thriving open source community responsible for many of the great successes in many industries. Read more

Hayao Miyazaki CG Tribute Made with Open Source Tools

Dono produced photorealistic worlds for the memorable stars of Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and many more of Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpieces using a suite of open source tools, including Blender for 3D, Gimp for image editing, and Natron for compositing. The only non-open source software was the rendering engine, Octane. Read more